Theresa May has unveiled new measures to tackle the scourge of modern-day slavery.
Speaking at the UN’s International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva, the prime minister also said that world leaders have a ‘moral duty’ to act on modern slavery.
She said: “no leader worthy of the name can look the other way while men, women and children are held against their will”.
New measures to be introduced
In her speech, Mrs May announced a series of measures designed to help tackle modern slavery.
The most striking was the decision to create a new international modern slavery and migration envoy to co-ordinate the UK’s work with other nations.
This was a recommendation made recently by the Modern Slavery Act Independent review panel who argued the UK’s anti-slavery commissioner should focus primarily on the UK, while a new position should be created to focus on the UK’s partnership with other nations.
The Prime Minister also announced an extra £10m to help reduce the exploitation of children in Africa’s agricultural industries and she called on big businesses to produce transparency statements on modern slavery.
Mrs May said: “Modern slavery reaches into every corner of our lives – in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the services we pay for. Yet for many years, it seldom captured the world’s attention or outrage – allowing those who trade in human misery to quietly continue their work and allowing all of us to look the other way as we benefitted from the forced labour of this growing underclass.”
Modern Slavery around the globe
There are thought to be more than 40m people globally in some form of modern slavery, from forced labour to commercial sexual exploitation.
Modern slavery here in the UK
Those in modern slavery here in the UK are often hidden in plain sight – in nail bars, car washes or brothels.
According to the Walk Free Foundation, there are thought to be as many as 136,000 people in the UK is modern slavery.
In 2015, the UK introduced the Modern Slavery Act which applies in England and Wales. The legislation included tougher sentences and more help for victims of this crime.
A recent review of the Modern Slavery Act, led by Frank Field MP concluded that since the law was introduced, there have been too few convictions and that the existing law needed to be strengthened.